I don’t know about you, but I get antsy when one of my loved ones is even 15 minutes late for anything. I start the line of texting and phone calls to check up on them, to make sure they either just got side-tracked, or lost, and not something more serious. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And it’s always a relief to hear their voice on the other end of the phone explaining that they just took a right instead of a left, and that while late, are on their way. For families of POW/MIA service members, there is no phone number to reach them at, and no reassurance of their loved ones that they’re “on their way.”
Today is National POW/MIA recognition day. It’s estimated that since WWII over 83,000 service men and women have been labeled POW or MIA. That’s a lot of American families who will have the gut-wrenching experience of not knowing when, or if, their loved ones will ever pull up into the driveway ever again. It’s a fear I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so on days like this, and honestly, every day, it doesn’t hurt to recognize these families and their struggles with things like awareness ribbons and lapel pins.
Thankfully there are organizations that work with families and the countries where their loved ones were stationed, to shed light on the unanswered questions and in some cases, bring them home. It isn’t always a happy ending, and sometimes the best outcome is a resting place, but occasionally these service men and women are returned alive and it is also for them that myself and others wear POW/MIA lapel pins. For the successes and not just the tragedies. For hope, and not just for consolation.
On a personal note, I just want to thank the families of these POW/MIA members. These soldiers and their families are paying the ultimate price for my freedom, and I can’t begin to convey my gratitude. You’re truly heroes.